Arts

Susan Beattie  and her husband, Troy Weidenheimer.Those who rub shoulders with Susan Beattie of Palmyra in the Fluvanna Leadership Development Program usually have no idea she used to work with the greatest names in folk music.

Beattie, who refers to herself as “homely” at that time in her life, may have seemed like a wallflower, but she had one of the best seats in the world as secretary for a New York City attorney’s office that functioned as a talent booking agency.

After growing up in Union, Mo., Beattie was awed by New York. “Imagine how I wandered around!” she said.

Her job at Len Rosenfeld’s place, as it was known, was to help with arranging recording contracts and booking.

“The biggest name in the office was a blues singer named Josh White,” said Beattie. White filed the first civil rights act suit in the state of Maryland against public accommodations because somebody refused to serve him in a bar, Beattie said. “He won and we went back there and had a drink!”

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Painting by TartaglinoBecause his last name seems unpronounceable to most, Tom Tartaglino (the “G” is silent) is known in the community and in local art circles as Tom T. But most know him by his massive panoramic oil paintings often composed on non-traditional supports, such as doors. Tartaglino’s work speaks for itself in its bold realism.

At its monthly meeting Feb. 17, the Fluvanna Art Association welcomed Tartaglino and engaged in a lively discussion about oil painting and how he takes an idea and builds on it layer by layer.
Like many artists, Tartaglino felt artistic yearning early but never acted on it until he was 40, he said. He earned his degree in art from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), studying painting and printmaking.
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Persimmon Tree PlayersIt has been 13 years since Warren Johnson joined the Persimmon Tree Players (PTP), Fluvanna’s only community theater group. The group has been in existence and entertaining audiences for over 25 years.  Johnson joined up with PTP when the group of dedicated thespians had dwindled to a small ensemble and were trying to get some momentum going again.

Johnson, who is leaving his post as pastor of the Fork Union Baptist Church, will be returning to his home town of Franklin, Va., to become pastor at the Baptist church there. Johnson admitted it was a difficult choice to leave behind his parishioners and the theater group, but the idea of returning to his boyhood home exerted a strong influence. Add a comment

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Sue and Al Mink in FlorenceFor Sue and Al Mink, traveling is not just another trip but a cultural experience. They call Lake Monticello home but they hang their hat in other places every three months during the year. Currently they are in Panama.

“People often ask us, ‘How do you do it?’” said Sue Mink, who explained  how she and her husband afford the lifestyle that some who have a passion for travel only dream of. They recently started a blog discussing the strategies they use for getting away from it all.

“We’ve always been adventurous. We moved frequently with the Air Force and soon learned that we can make anywhere a home as long as we are together,” said Mink. “We have explored much of Europe and have taken major trips to Central America, Russia, Ukraine, China and Japan. Each time we traveled, we discovered wonderful places, but only really got a taste of any one location. We wondered what it would be like to actually live in these beautiful or exotic settings instead of just visiting them.”

Mink described how she and her husband took their dreams and made them a reality.  It was after Sue’s mother was diagnosed with a terrible disease and died relatively young. As they were driving home from her funeral, they realized that their time could be much shorter than they had always thought.

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Jason AbbottKicking off a new year of programs at its monthly meeting on Jan. 20, the Fluvanna Art Association welcomed artist Jason Abbott, who focused on the business of art.

Somewhat shy, Abbott broke out of his shell by using humor.

“Public speaking is worse than death,” he said. “So if you’re at a funeral, you’re better off in the box than giving the eulogy.” The members laughed at his opening, immediately warming to him and setting the stage for a frank discussion about his career in the often-competitive art world.

He began by talking about his yearning to become a commercial artist. He got sidetracked by other career obligations suggested by outside forces, he said, and ignored his inner artist.

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